Cooperative living for active adults

Village Cooperative of Alexandria is a neighborhood within a neighborhood. And, the home-owners who live in the 28 new homes within the existing Washington Elementary School structure were happy they made the move when the opportunity arose.

Village Cooperative, the first Alexandria senior cooperative for active adults 62-plus, offers a maintenance-free


It is a family environment at The Village Cooperative in Alexandria. Above, Chuck Carlson receives an unexpected kiss from Violet, a tenant, in the community room. The community room is an active and vibrant room with meals, cards, games and an occasional kiss! Contributed photo


lifestyle with all the financial benefits of ownership. It offers an alternative to apartments or townhomes for independent adults who may still be working and wish to have a new home with no hassles, or others who have retired and enjoy traveling while leaving their home without worries.

The 28 homes within the cooperative are expertly designed. There are 17 different floor plans for the single-level, one- or two-bedroom-plus homes that maximize living space and range from 749 to over 1,525 sq. ft. Each independent home is completely maintenance free and equipped with household appliances, including a dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, a private balcony or patio and individually controlled HVAC systems. Indoor mail delivery is included. The smoke-free building is pet friendly, limiting two pets per home.

Located at 515 Jefferson Street, the homes of the Village Cooperative of Alexandria are within the historic Washington Elementary School structure.

Local businessmen, including Pat Ellingson, Tom Hills and Scott Johnston, purchased the Washington School property in 2008 and partnered with St. Paul-based Real Estate Equities to develop the project. Paul Ringdahl was the project architect and Alexandria-based Tradesman Construction was the general contractor for the renovation.

The renovation of the existing Washington School preserved the historic integrity of the exterior structure of the building. Inside, a security entrance provides safety, and an inviting fireplace and sitting area welcomes resident owners, their visitors and family members. Judi Korkowski, Village Cooperative member, described it as “free-standing homes in one structure.”

Individual homes provide members with ownership, modern conveniences and privacy. Jenny Muzik added, “A great amenity about living in the Village Cooperative of Alexandria is that there will always be enough space to entertain family and friends.”


The Village Cooperative is a place to gather and enjoy each other’s company. Contributed photo


A beautifully decorated community room is perfect for family celebrations, parties, group activities and projects, or personal interests. A guest suite is available for affordable rent if a family member decides to stay for a night or two. The parking area for guests is free.

“The Pub” is another gathering room for a morning coffee chat, board games or exercise. A large- screen TV will keep everyone entertained no matter what your interests are. A woodshop is located in the garage, and nicely landscaped grounds and walking paths provide a lovely place to spend time enjoying the outdoors. Raised garden beds are available on the east side “green space,” and those living at the Village have fun sharing their produce and flowers. Although electric grills are allowed on personal patios and decks, barbeque grills are available in the picnic area. A rhubarb patch has been planted.

Whether it’s time for fellowship with your neighbors, creative hobbies, woodworking or gardening, the Village Cooperative of Alexandria will fit your independent senior lifestyle. You can stay in shape with the use of the on-site fitness room, and the Village Cooperative also offers free wireless Internet, a heated parking garage with secure entrances and a car wash – all to make the residents’ lives that much more enjoyable.

As a cooperative, the members control every aspect of ownership. The cooperative employs an on-site member


There are many things to do including gardening and a wood shop. Contributed photos


services manager who provides and coordinates courtesy services and also serves as a concierge. The member services manager will arrange to have plants watered and mail held while owners travel or are absent for other reasons.

A governing board of the Village Cooperative consists of five resident-owners and meets once a month. Voted on by members, each person on the governing board serves a three-year term. The Activities, Marketing, and Property committees, representing the Village member-owners, each work with the governing board. Char Hanson, chairperson of the marketing committee, explained, “A cooperative fee covers insurance for the building structure, property taxes, maintenance, housekeeping and replacement reserves for appliances. Each owner-resident pays for their own electricity, TV and telephone packages.”

An example of how the governing board and member-owners work is clearly illustrated with the placement of a new sign that now graces the lawn of the Village. Randy Berglin, member-owner, approached the interior design instructor at the Alexandria Technical School to see if they would take on the project of designing a sign for the Village Cooperative as a class project. An agreement was made, and his class came to look at the facility in January 2015 to determine where the sign would be placed. Twelve designs were later presented, and Hayley Hughes’ design was chosen. Randy contacted Indigo Signs, who worked from Hayley’s project, to present a finished design and quote. Members voted to go ahead with the project, and it was completed in July 2015.

The renovation of the Washington Elementary School created a brand-new purpose for a beautiful historic building within the Alexandria neighborhood just blocks from downtown. Convenience and location were factors when making the decision to buy “shares” of the Village Cooperative of Alexandria. Member-owners enjoy the close proximity of the Central Lakes Trail, churches, the downtown shopping and opportunities to walk and bike. Meals can be ordered and delivered by the Corral from Nelson and Elden’s Fresh Foods from Alexandria delivers groceries. Living in the Village Cooperative of Alexandria is all about a maintenance-free lifestyle.

Many member-owners of the Village Cooperative have lived independently in the Alexandria area all of their life, yet, several have chosen Alexandria as a new location for retirement. Area lakes and recreational interests, theaters and parks, have brought people to the Village Cooperative.

Because Alexandria has been a halfway point between the Twin Cities and Fargo-Moorhead, right off Interstate-94, many people, including new member-owners of the Village Cooperative, are well-acquainted with the Alexandria area. The oldest member-owner is 99 years old, and the youngest are in their mid-60s. They support the community they live in, donating annually to the Jingle Bells telethon and several community causes.

One of the labors of love completed and continued by the member-owners of the Village Cooperative of Alexandria is the Little Free Library. It is an incorporated nonprofit organization, with the mission of promoting literacy and building a sense of community through free book exchanges. Individuals can design and build their own library, or purchase kits from the program’s website.

With the help of Randy Berglin, who originated the idea, Dick Patton designed and built the Village Cooperative of Alexandria’s Little Free Library, resembling the old Washington School. Utilizing the well-furnished woodshop in the garage area, Patton donated 125 hours of volunteer time into building the miniature replica. The replica is registered as #21771 through the Little Free Library program, and its location is placed on Google Maps.

Jim Korkowski, another member-owner, furnished the stand which was made at Douglas Machine. Jenny Muzik said, “The library is filled with books that will appeal to readers of all ages. We see lots of ages stop and check it out.”

The Village is a neighborhood, and the people who live there take pride in their free-standing homes within the historic structure of the Washington Elementary School. Discover all the reasons to choose the Village Cooperative of Alexandria as your new home. Visit their website www.VillageCooperative.com to learn more about cooperative living or call the local office, (320) 219-7592 for information about the cooperative, free-maintenance lifestyle, homes for resale, or to be added to the waiting list.

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